Conservation groups are sometimes rightly criticised for wanting to save everything whether it is worth keeping or not, but the Birmingham Victorian Society has a point when it describes as a "crime" the decay of once imposing 19th century houses along the Hagley Road.
The latest example of disappearing heritage concerns 324 Hagley Road, the last surviving example in Birmingham of a house designed by the renowned Victorian architect Ernest Barnsley. In Hall Green, meanwhile, another large villa, built in 1850 and regarded as a local landmark, has been allowed to rot and is in danger of being demolished to make way for a development of flats and houses.
Public opinion would appear to be on the side of the Victorian Society. More than 1,000 people have signed a petition in Hall Green, while the state of properties in Edgbaston has been a matter of concern for years.
It would not be immediately obvious to anyone driving along the Hagley Road that they are passing through a conservation area. The gateway to the city centre is littered with dilapidated Victorian properties, in some cases boarded up and in others given over to student accommodation or cheap hotels.
No one doubts that it is extremely expensive to maintain such large buildings and retain them as family dwellings. No one doubts, either, that the land on which these properties sit is extremely valuable in a city which is looking to expand its commercial sector and to build 60,000 new homes.
If the city council is serious about conservation areas - where local authorities have a duty to preserve and enhance the appearance of dwellings - it should be far more forceful in talking to the owners of properties about their responsibilities and, if all else fails, taking steps through the courts to force renovation and maintenance.